Free care plans published

The Scottish executive has had to publish its
plans for free personal care early following an embarrassing slip
up on its website.

Last Friday, the recommendations of the Care
Development Group, Fair Care for Older People, were published on
the executive’s website in error, a fortnight before their due
release date.

When the mistake was noticed details were
promptly removed – but not before copies had been downloaded by the
Conservative party, among others.

Late on Friday night, the plans for the
introduction of personal care in Scotland from April 2002 were
officially published.

The proposals of the 12-member Care
Development Group chaired by Malcolm Chisholm, deputy minister for
community care, will be implemented in 2002 at a cost of an extra
£125 million a year. Personal care and nursing care for those
with an assessed need will be paid up to a maximum of £90 per
week and £65 per week respectively.

The group has followed the definition of
personal care as presented by the Royal Commission on Long Term
Care which includes “the provision of non medical services which
involve close personal care and touching”. For those people
suffering from dementia, the definition of personal care will
include psychological support and counselling.

The timing of the publication of the plans has
wrongfooted campaigning groups, many of which are expected to
criticise the proposals as not going far enough. The report
anticipates these criticisms by stating that because “the cost of
care is likely to rise in real terms over the yearsÊÉ it
is therefore important that changes introduced are

Maureen O’Neill, director of Age Concern
Scotland, welcomed the proposals and said: “The group is to be
congratulated on coming up with workable and affordable solutions
which will ensure that all older people in Scotland who need
personal care will get it free of charge.”

Other recommendations include transitional
arrangements whereby those people currently funding their own care
will receive the maximum contribution towards their personal and
nursing care without further assessment, while all others will pay
for the residential living costs of their care.

From a date yet to specified, all new
applicants for care will be assessed on the new criteria. For those
currently receiving the defined personal care at home, all charging
will cease from April next year.

The Care Development Group makes strong
recommendations that the emphasis on service development be on
helping people stay in their own homes as long as possible and
states: “Of the new financial provision at least £50 million
should be devoted to securing a step-change in the provision of
home care services for older people”.

Single shared assessment between social work
and health is to be finalised nationally by April 2002, thus
avoiding putting service users through unnecessary duplication of

The new funding is to be ring-fenced, while
existing budgets are to be set against “clear outcome agreements
agreed among local authorities, the NHS and the Scottish

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